Oscar Wilde and the Aesthetics of Transgression
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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Oscar Wilde’s 1891 symbolist tragedy Salomé has had a rich afterlife in literature, opera, dance, film, and popular culture. Even though the literature and art of the European fin de siècle produced many treatments of the famous biblical story of Salome and Saint John the Baptist, virtually every major version in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has been some ...
1. Dancing on the Threshold: Wilde’s Salomé between Symbolist, Decadent, and Modernist Aesthetics
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By the time Oscar Wilde got to the story of Salome, such writers as Heine, Flaubert, Mallarmé, Laforgue, and Huysmans (together with Moreau, Regnault, and other visual artists) had already fundamentally transformed the sparse biblical account of John the Baptist’s martyrdom in the gospels of Mark (6:14–29) and Matthew (14:1–12). From the tale of a nameless, in- ...
2. “The Brutal Music and the Delicate Text”? Richard Strauss’s Operatic Modernism in Salome
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In October 1905, two months before the astounding premiere of his Salome, Richard Strauss received an enthusiastic letter from friend and peer composer Gustav Mahler, who had just reviewed the completed score. ...
3. Perverts in Court: Maud Allan’s The Vision of Salomé and the Pemberton-Billing Trial
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This chapter considers the first influential modernist female interpreter of Wilde’s play, the Canadian American dancer Maud Allan, who shot to international fame with The Vision of Salomé in London in 1908. Scholars studying dance or lesbian legal and cultural history and scholars of Wilde’s cultural afterlife have been very interested in Allan because of her tragic in- ...
4. Alla Nazimova’s Salomé: An Historical Phantasy by Oscar Wilde
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Four years after Maud Allan’s public disgrace in the Pemberton-Billing Trial, Russian-born actress and Hollywood movie star Alla Nazimova (1879–1945) decided to adapt Wilde’s drama in her striking art film Salomé: An Historical Phantasy by Oscar Wilde.1 Aided by Natacha Rambova’s extraordinary, Beardsleyesque set designs and costumes, Salomé invoked both the ...
5. Portraits of the Artist as a Gay Man and Salom� as a Feminist Icon: Wilde and Salom� in Popular Culture since the 1980s
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In this final chapter, I turn to recent adaptations of Wilde’s Salome figure in film and popular literature and culture since the 1980s. There was a decades-long lull since the 1950s, after Billy Wilder’s classic Sunset Boulevard (1950, now also a Broadway musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber), in which an aging film actress (Gloria Swanson) imagines and acts out her ...
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Looking back at the adaptations and transformations discussed in the course of Salome’s Modernity, one cannot help but notice their great formal range and ideological variety. Wilde and Salomé graduated from censored,perverse tempters of the innocent Victorians in the 1890s, to darlings of the European theatrical and operatic avant-garde in the 1900s (with...
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Illustrations: 4 halftones
Publication Year: 2011